CHIPOLOPOLO’S hunger for a berth in the Russia 2018 World Cup final group stage qualifiers will be put to the test this evening by hosts Sudan in a second round, first leg meeting in Karima.
Zambia head to Sudan in search of their first win there after drawing a blank in three previous World Cup qualifying meetings dating back to 1968 when they were eliminated 8-8 on aggregate on away goals after losing 4-2 away in Khartoum in the Mexico 1970 race.
Tonight’s match will be beamed live on SuperSport Channel 3 starting at 18:45hours.
Chipolopolo’s best result away has been a walkover win in the Brazil 2014 qualifiers when they were handed a 3-0 win after Sudan had fielded a suspended player in a match the hosts initially won 2-0 in June, 2012 and later, held Zambia to a 1-1 draw in Ndola.
Overall, Sudan have technically won all their home World Cup qualifiers, albeit outside the boardroom.
However, Coach ‘Chicken’ George Lwandamina remains upbeat despite the poor away World Cup qualifying record against Sudan.
“We have picked lessons from the past experience with Sudan and we will use our experience going into this game but every game is different, so we will not fear them based on past experience and they too can’t back on past glory” Lwandamina said.
However, Chipolopolo are also notoriously bad travellers and have won two and drawn two of their last six qualifiers on the road since October, 2014 of which their latest victory was a 2-1 away win over Kenya in September.
Chipolopolo’s character will further be tested following their 11th hour arrival in Sudan plus an extra 400km that they have had to fly from Khartoum to Karima for the game having barely trained together for 24 hours on Monday in Lusaka.
Lwandamina will have some absentees for the match after Chisamba Lungu withdrew from the trip citing personal reasons and Evans Kangwa had some flight hiccups, while defender Christopher Munthali was mysteriously dropped and replaced by Spencer Sautu at the last minute, just before departure on Monday night.
Captain Rainford Kalaba is back after excusing himself from the 3-0 friendly defeat away to Egypt on October 11 in Abu Dhabi.
The onus will also be on the striking duo of Collins Mbesuma and Winston Kalengo who showed so much chemistry in the 2-1 win over Kenya but failed to find that magic again after drawing blanks against Gabon and Egypt.
Zambia will host Sudan this Sunday at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in the final leg decider.
Winner over both legs will advance to the group stage qualifier where Africa’s five representatives in Russia will be decided.
Meanwhile, SANDRA MWILA reports that the Chipolopolo touched down in Khartoum around 13:00 hours Zambian time before connecting to Karima. The team was expected to have a feel of the stadium after a tiring journey before facing the hosts some 24 hours later.